Enrichment Arts & Culture

Megan Thee Stallion is the latest female artist beefing with her label

megan thee stallion in a red dress on the red carpet
Getty Images

Story at a glance

  • Megan Thee Stallion was granted a temporary restraining order against her label and its CEO after claiming they were preventing her from releasing new music.
  • The rapper is suing to void her contract with 1501 Entertainment, which she signed when she was 20.
  • The feud has played out in the public eye, much like Taylor Swift’s battle against Big Machine Records and Scooter Braun.

Will she or won’t she? The latest word from rapper Megan Thee Stallion came on March 2, after a federal judge granted her a restraining order against 1501 Certified Entertainment and CEO Carl Crawford. With the promise of new music dropping, it looks like the hot girl summer isn’t over yet.

But the status of the contract the artist, whose legal name is Megan Pete, signed with her former record company is still undecided. 

It started, Pete said in an Instagram live video on March 1, when she signed a management deal with Roc Nation. Her new managers and lawyers pointed out sections of her contract with 1501 Entertainment the rapper said she wasn’t previously aware of. 

“When I signed, I didn’t really know what was in my contract. I was young, I think I was like 20, and I didn’t know everything that was in that contract,” Pete said. 

The contract, according to a lawsuit filed against 1501 Entertainment, granted the record company 60 percent of her recording income, exclusive rights to live performance and touring activities and 30 percent of all tour income. The rapper also said she has only been paid $15,000, despite more than 1 billion streams on her songs and nearly 300,000 individual track downloads. 

When she asked the record label to renegotiate the contract, Pete said “everything went left.” So on March 1, she went live on Instagram and told fans the record company was keeping her from releasing any new music, starting the hashtags “Free Megan” and “Free the Stallion.”  The next day, she filed the lawsuit and a restraining order — which the judge granted. 

The record company has asked the judge to dissolve the restraining order, saying their terms were “vastly more generous than industry standards provide for an artist of similar standing” and that she had violated her agreement with 1501 Entertainment. 

If any of this is sounding familiar, it’s because you’ve heard it before. 

In 2019, Taylor Swift aired her grievances on Twitter with Big Machine Records, whom she signed with at 16, CEO Scott Borchetta and record executive Scooter Braun. Braun is chairman of Ithaca Ventures, founded by Borchetta, which bought the Big Machine Label Group in June 2019 and acquired the rights of all of Taylor Swift’s recordings under that label — all but one of the seven albums Swift has put out. 

Swift said, among other things, Borchetta and Braun were not allowing her to perform her old songs at the American Music Awards, where she was to be honored as Artist of the Decade. 

Big Machine fired back, claiming Swift owed money and assets to their company. Braun issued his own statement on Instagram. 

Swift performed her old songs at the AMAs, wearing a white button-down shirt with titles of all of her Big Machine-released albums printed on it. At a ceremony honoring her as Billboard’s women of the decade in December 2019, she condemned “toxic male privilege” in the industry. 

“Lately, there’s been a new shift that has affected me personally, and that I feel is a potentially harmful force in our industry. And as your resident loud person, I feel the need to bring it up: And that is the unregulated world of private equity coming in and buying up our music, as if it is real estate, as if it’s an app, or a shoe line,” she said. “This just happened to me without my approval, consultation or consent.”

Of course, Swift was not the first female artist to take their record label to task publicly. Artists Kesha and Jojo have both filed suits to void contracts with labels, while others, like Kelis, have blasted record executives publicly for taking advantage of them as young women. 

Studies show women are still grossly underrepresented in the music industry, and while female-run record labels are gaining traction, they are still far from the norm.